Update on Pilot Projects

The Panorama Project is running pilot projects ahead of its broader planned research initiatives. These projects are focused on important questions about the impact of library holdings on discovery, brand awareness, and sales. The pilot projects help us refine research methodologies, clarify technical and organizational requirements, and improve long-term planning.

Pilot project ideas come from our growing community of supporters, other members of the publishing industry, and the project Advisory Council. Each project idea is evaluated to assess its fit with the project’s broad objectives; other research projects underway; and the project’s current data, technical, and human resources.

To date, the pilot projects we are working on fall into one of two groups: the first tests the “organic” impact of library holdings outside the library. These projects look at what happens when a library adds a book to its catalog—how the mere presence of a book in the catalog and in circulation impacts discovery, brand awareness, and ultimately sales.

The second group tests “event driven” impacts—for example, the impact of author events at libraries, other promotional activity, and proactive collaboration between libraries and local retailers.

Current pilot projects

Below you will find high-level overviews of several pilot projects—more will be added. While we want to share what we are working on, we need to avoid disclosing information that might influence patron and/or consumer behavior. Detailed information on the source data, research methodologies, and findings will be available once the research is completed.

  • Mid-List Authors Study - This project (conducted in partnership with a leading publisher) is focused on understanding the organic impacts of library holdings on of mid-list authors and less well known books of commercially successful authors. We are comparing retail sales activity for a specific set of titles in areas with high and low library adoption of the titles.

  • Genre Study - This study is focused on understanding whether the organic impact of library holdings varies by genre. We have selected a group of metropolitan communities that have at least one sizeable independent bookseller and are examining library holdings and circulation patterns by genre and comparing the library data to the retail sales of those genres in the community.

  • Library Reading Events Study - This initiative is focused on understanding the impact of library driven community reading events (where a single book is promoted by the library for a short period of time, and supported with discussion groups and other sharing activities). Sales of the promoted author/title are tracked before, during, and after the event to determine impact of the library promotion on sales, and length of any measurable impact.

  • Library Author Events Study - This project is focused on understanding the impact of author events held at libraries. It involves a library in a major metropolitan area and the independent bookstore that facilitates retail sales at the author events selected for the study. A group of popular author events (both recent and upcoming) have been selected for research to understand the impact of those events on sales in the general geographic area, as well as sales at the library’s primary retail partner. We are looking at library activity and sales over a 6-month period surrounding the author event, including (when possible) sales of the author’s most recent book, as well as sales of the author’s earlier books.

  • Library/Book Seller Partnership Study - This study is focused on utilization of demand information from a library by an independent book seller to meet reader interests and drive sales. The study involves a library in a major metropolitan area and an independent bookstore with multiple outlets in the same community. The library has agreed to provide the book seller with a periodically updated list of the titles in their collection with the longest waitlists. The book seller will use this information to promote selected titles on the list. Those titles will be promoted in stores and online. We will then assess the sales impact of this collaboration over a period of approximately three months.

We will share updates on these projects and new research initiatives in upcoming posts.

Long-term research plans

The Panorama Project is focused on understanding the impact of library holdings on book discovery, author brand awareness, and sales. There is no single question—or even small group of questions—that will give us definitive insight into the impact of library holdings. That means the project’s long-term research questions will be similar to the pilot projects in many ways, but the scope and scale of the research data will be much different. Our goal is to build a data repository that contains an unprecedented breadth and depth of relevant data that will enable us to derive answers from a larger, more diverse data set that spans a longer period of time.

We welcome your questions and ideas. Please feel free to email us at info@panoramaproject.org.